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In from Chicago for birthday - suggestions?

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Hi everyone,

I'm coming home from Chicago in a few weeks and am being taken out for a birthday dinner. Alas, my gracious benefactors are a little less obsessive about food than I, and so have asked for recommendations around Santa Monica or the Beverly/Wilshire area, though we are willing to travel a little bit further if necessary. And there's a further catch: I'm a vegetarian, so no meat or fish (though eggs and dairy are fine). The place need not be a strictly vegetarian restaurant of couse, so long as it has options that aren't mere afterthoughts (i.e. a plate of grilled veggies). If it helps at all, I was thinking about Rustic Canyon as one possibility. Any and all recommendations are appreciated!

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  1. price range & any ambience and cuisine preferences [in addition to your veg request] would help us narrow down suggestions for you, as would a general age range of the attendees. and is wine/alcohol selection important?

    9 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Right, actual details would probably help. Sorry! Anyway, I'm in my late 20s and (enough with the pretense) my parents their early 60s. So quieter is probably better. As for price range, $30-50 per person would more or less be where we top out - lower or a smidge higher is fine, so long as the food is good, of course. Regarding food preferences, Californian or "New American," Italian, or French would be preferred. Wine or alcohol is not especially important. I like wine just fine, but try to seek out the good stuff for home consumption. I hope this clarifies things, and thanks.

      1. re: inkybrain

        ahh, that helps. since you're coming from such a great foodie town, this is going to be a challenge :)

        off the top of my head, places with solid food that won't break the bank:

        chaya brasserie - strong asian accent, but with western & mediterranean influences
        grace - contemporary american
        josie - seasonal contemporary american, and a personal fave of mine - i'm sure they'll accomodate your vegetarian requests.
        angelini osteria - some of the best italian in l.a. [but can be very loud & crowded]
        pane e vino - solid italian, great atmosphere, less noisy/chaotic than angelini
        taverna tony - very veggie friendly, and greeks always know how to celebrate! ;)
        lilly's - french café, can definitely do veggies for you
        rustic canyon - new american, gets lots of love in the boards
        abode - new american, see rustic canyon
        punch grill - new american, solid reviews

        hopefully one of these will work for you, or i'm sure other l.a. hounds will weigh in with their own suggestions.

        we also have excellent persian restaurants here if you'd consider it...they'll be within your price range, certainly vegetarian friendly, and probably something you don't get a lot of in chicago.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Josie has a really nice dining room -- just the right noise level to have a decent conversation without the room being dead.

          People won't stop talking about Rustic Canyon, so that would most definitely be worth consideration.

          1. re: glutton

            IIRC, it's going to be hard for inkybrain to hit his price-point at Josie, I suspect. . .

            1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

              it's possible to do it for $50 pp depending on how you order, and as he said, they're not too concerned about wine [although josie does have a nice selection...]

            2. re: glutton

              You should do a search of the boards re: Rustic Canyon as much of what's being said isn't very good. I think $30-50 pp without alcohol is definitely doable at Josie.

            3. re: goodhealthgourmet

              great recs... i'll just add...

              jiraffe... love this place and great for all ages
              palmeri... italian in brentwood
              enoteca drago... bev hills good italian and wine
              inn of the seventh ray... if you want to head out to topanga, and has good
              veggie options
              lucques... solid food, a bit farther east
              jar.... solid as well, farther east as well
              la dolce vita... good for folks
              madeo... also good for folks

              as ghg says, if you'll consider ethnic, you could head over to fairfax for ethiopian at rahel

              if you yourself are interested in grabbing chinese at some point in that area, try mao's chinese kitchen that has tons of meat subs for

              1. re: Emme

                i was under the impression that inn of the seventh ray is a pretty romantic spot. more suited to date night than a family dinner...was i misinformed?

                btw, good call on jiraffe.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  i think I7R is both...

        2. I second Josie. I also highly recommend Axe and Nook. Happy Birthday to you.

          -----
          Nook Bistro
          11628 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 9, Los Angeles, CA 90025

          Josie
          2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

          Axe
          1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

          1 Reply
          1. re: ElissaInPlaya

            ooh, forgot about axe! love that place, and definitely veggie friendly. good call.

          2. Like the previous poster said, boy did we do good eating in Chicago - it has such a great selection of restaurants. To the restaurants listed, I would add Joe's in Venice on Abbot Kinney and Chaya Venice in Marina del Rey. Happy birthday!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bria Silbert

              i think chaya venice, although one of my personal favorites, is a bit too young & noisy for dinner with mom & dad. joe's is a great idea, though.